Archive for July, 2011

The Booth Western Art Museum in Cartersville, Georgia is celebrating the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War with the Civil War works of Mort Künstler.  Booth Western Art Museum focuses on Western American Art and boasts over 120,000 square feet of Civil War art, Presidential portraits and letters, Western movie posters, and Western illustration.

Künstler’s art was well received at the opening on April 2, 2011 with people inquiring on purchasing many of the works.  Künstler’s daughter Jane said she was taken aback by the interest in purchasing an original Künstler Civil War painting and hadn’t even come prepared with prices.  “It’s an exhibit in a museum, I never expected to sell three paints right away,” she said.

The interest in Künstler’s art spans all ages and genders.  Jane points out that 50 percent of Künstler’s audience and costumers are women.  While he believes in capturing the events of the Civil War this hasn’t limited Künstler to strictly battle scenes.  He has done many works that depict the love, emotion, and rejuvenation between the ‘characters’ of the Civil War showing a national audience that these were real people who had real emotional hardships.

For Us the Living: The Civil War in Paintings and Eyewitness Accounts

The Booth Western Art Museum is located in Georgia and as a Southern state, some areas of the country are uncertain about celebrating the anniversary of the Civil War.  Yet Künstler’s exhibit show’s both sides of the war and his paintings evoke such powerful feelings that it almost feels as though the Confederate and Union soldiers are used to being displayed together as more of a collective look and feel, versus a segregated distance.  Perhaps this exhibit will elicit the feeling of a United America, turning brother versus brother back to the commonality of fraternity.  For Us the Living, with a name that binds rather than divides, represents 150 years later, the rejoining and strength of our nation.

Mort Künstler’s Civil War Art: For Us the Living
April 2 – September 4, 2011 Special Exhibition Gallery


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How are the works of Mathew Brady relevant to today’s historical renderings of the Civil War? 

It’s true that not all photography accurately captured the action of battle, usually showing the aftermath of a fight was safer, easier, and put less stress on the equipment.  Most of the photographs depict the dead, moved closer to each other to create a visually impactful piece, or enhanced with weaponry, a sought after commodity that wouldn’t be left with the dead.  Yet, Brady captured the faces, uniforms, encampments, and way of life of the soldiers of the Civil War, as an extremely important historical reference.  Painters, historians, movie makers, and the general public understand the way of life during the Civil War because of the painstaking photo documentation of Brady and his team.

How does it relate?

Dale Gallon surrounded by sketches and photographs of the Civil War

Dale Gallon uses photographs as a second source, relying heavily on first hand accounts penned in journal entries, letters, and documents but he then consults photography.  He approaches photos with caution, looking for inaccuracy first and then observing the subtle details, how a uniform wrinkles, how tall the soldiers were, what the horses looked like after being in battle for days.  A photo, as a secondary resource helps provide visual ques that written documents do not contain.  The marriage of first hand accounts and photographic depictions are key in formulating an accurate painting.

The Silver Screen?

Ken Burn’s The Civil War was largely formed around the historical photographs of Mathew Brady.  Ken Burn’s PBS website represents this important photographic documentation with three interactive displays for users.  Visit Images of the Civil War and design your own movie, explore photographs under a lens of discovery, and browse through thousands of images of the Civil War.

Fair Oaks, VA – Lt. Washington, a Confederate Prisoner with Capt. Custer

Archival images played an essential role in the creation of The Civil War. Throughout the film, Ken Burns uses these images to draw us into the story, showing us the people, places and events captured by Civil War photographers’ glass-plate negatives. – Ken Burns The Civil War

Learn more about the process of photography in Brady’s Era from preparing the plate to making the exposure.   Slideshow

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See what happens in the studio with Dale Gallon

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Mathew Brady, the father of photo journalism, understood the historical relevance of capturing history in the making.  Read through this interactive timeline I created to learn about his accomplishments and works that help depict history.

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Many photographs taken during the Civil War were published in newspapers and required some bites of sensationalism.  Newspapers were the only bridges to the battlefields for those outside the range of shrapnel.  Most of these pictorial references were of the dead, after they had been moved and manipulated for a better photographic representation.

Think like an historian – Can you spot the inconsistencies?


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